Digital Humanity in Health and Care seminar series
Organiser: mHabitat team
This is a public event

Digital Humanity in Health and Care seminar series

The Digital Humanity in Health and Care seminar series is brought to you by mHabitat in partnership with the School of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds. Curated by Dr Victoria Betton and Dr Helen Thornham, the three seminars bring people accessing health and care services, practitioners, policy makers and academics together to consider contemporary dilemmas around ethics, morals and humanity which may not always get the attention they deserve in the rush to adopt digitally enabled health and social care. Our seminar series is driven by three overarching questions:

1.What does digital humanity look like? And what does it look like in relation to health and care and in relation to the axes below of policy, leadership and citizenship?

2.Where is digital humanity in health and care? Is it, and could it be in systems? If it is in the human, then is this enough in a changing landscape?

3.How can we be digitally humane? What everyday, digital, connective or community actions or reflections can we make or do?

Each seminar will begin with a provocation co-presented by a practitioner and an academic expert in the field. We will then use a case study to apply these insights into an everyday scenario. Each seminar will produce a summary paper which will be published on the mHabitat website.

Digital humanity in health #01 POLICY

Policy issues often belatedly ask questions about humanity, morality and ethics, which are either reactive or reflective, or these issues are translated into targets or gateways at key points within processes. This understands humanity, morality and ethics as functions or processes within a system. What if we turned this around and asked how we might design policy for digital humanity? Or ask what a digitally humane policy might look like? What would we need to prioritise? How would we build for it? What existing priorities and presumptions would we need to discard or begin with? What good work can we find in existing national health and social care digital policy that sufficiently accounts for complex ethical issues for digital tools and services? What assumptions are underpinning digital policy and what future does it hold for our public services?


Mark Brown – Mark Brown is development director of Social Spider CIC. He writes and speaks regularly on digital, mental health and other issues. He was one of of Nursing Times and Health Service Journal’s social media pioneers 2014. Mark has worked on a number of digital, both with mhabitat and with other partners. He has been a contributing author on a number of articles on digital and mental health and regularly speaks on co-production of digital in public sector environments. @Markoneinfour

Dylan Roberts – Chief Digital Officer, Leeds City Council @DylanRRoberts

Dr Christopher Till – Chris Till is a sociologist who researches technologies and health. He is interested in how technologies help to shape our understandings and practices of health and bodies. In particular, he is concerned with the role of corporate and commercial interventions. Recent research has focused on the use of self-tracking devices in workplace wellness programs. This has explored how business and management aims are merged with the health and body projects of individuals through the use of digital devices, systems and data. He is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Leeds Beckett University, he blogs as and tweets at @chrishtill

DATE: 27th June 2017

TIME: 13:00 – 16:00

LOCATION: FutureLabs, Second Floor – 1 Eastgate, Leeds, LS2 7LY

Digital humanity in health #02 LEADERSHIP

Leadership and management roles are often constructed aside from human interactions – managers are often not the people who engage with patients and leaders are often chosen representatives from a disparate group. While there may be good reasons for this, what does this do to issues of ethics, morality and humanity? Where does it retrospectively locate these issues and is this for good reason? What would a health service that embedded humanity into leadership look like? What would decisions be based on and would this better equip health and social care managers and leaders to make sense of and respond intelligently to the quickly emerging field of digital health tools and services? To what extent could issues around humanity be the parameters for the adoption of digital?


Alan Taylor, PhD, MSc, FHEA – Alan is passionate about person-centred health and social care. All of us can take a lead in our care, and too often systems of health and social care don’t support this. Alan’s aim is to help health and social care professionals overcome the barriers which prevent them really attending to people’s needs, and thus radically transform the care they deliver. All of us flourish when services are integrated, person-centred and imaginative, and leadership is the difference that makes the difference.

Alan is an experienced and enthusiastic researcher and educator committed to continual improvement in learning, and in practice. Alan espouses participatory research methods, grounded in practice, which he applies sensitively informed by a nomadic postmodern ethics. He enjoys facilitating critical thinking in students, and has a strong commitment to reflexivity and reflective practice in the workplace, whether as a manager, a consultant or as an educator.

Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Management and Service Development, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, Coventry University @alndix

Mike Chitty – Head of Applied Leadership, NHS Leadership Academy @mikechitty

The NHS Leadership Academy has worked for the last 4 years to improve the quality and impact of leadership in health and care. We develop people to provide compassionate and inclusive care in line with the values and principles of the NHS constitution. To develop the leader is to develop the human being.

Care is an expression of kindness. Of kinship. Of humanity.

How we maintain this essential quality of humanity in health and care systems that increasingly are run by algorithms asks profound questions about this essentially humanistic perspective on what it means to lead and care in the NHS. Digital services add enormous value to healthcare. Faster, more efficient processes help more service users at a time when skilled people and resources are at a premium in the NHS.

To establish effective leadership and compassionate care, we must aim to integrate the digital with the human. The National Health Cyborg?

DATE: 25th July 2017

TIME: 13:00 – 16:00

LOCATION: FutureLabs, Second Floor – 1 Eastgate, Leeds, LS2 7LY

Digital humanity in health #03 CITIZENS

Thinking about citizens, rather than patients, radically re-conceives how we might understand health services as something that could depart from a service delivery model into something else. If we were to build around the concept of the citizen, instead of the patient – what would we build and prioritise? Is the citizen and the patient the same thing within a digital system that understands choice and agency in very particular ways? What questions would we need to ask and why? Are there good examples or complete failures we could look to here? Asking these questions makes us realise the extent to which patients and citizens are currently able to influence and shape health and social care services. What would this do to the notion of digital humanity?


Sue Sibbald – Sue Sibbald is a Peer Specialist working at Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust (SHSCFT) running groups for people their families and friends who have Borderline Personality Disorder or identify with that diagnosis. She also trains staff at the Trust. Sue has spoken at several conferences including NHS Confed17 on the topic of should there be a revolution in Mental Health? She also speaks on topics such as digital peer support and patients as partners. @BPDFFS

Olivia Butterworth – Head of Public Participation NHS England @LiviBF

Dr Christopher Birchall – Lecturer in Digital Media / Programme Leader BA Digital Media, University of Leeds @birchallchris